Sharing Behavioral Health Information within Police-Mental Health Collaborations

Police-mental health collaboration (PMHC) programs support law enforcement agencies around the country in planning and implementing effective public safety responses to people who have mental illnesses.

Sharing information is at the heart of police-mental health collaborations (PMHCs). Having access to appropriate and timely behavioral health information is crucial to ensuring effective law enforcement responses across a range of scenarios—from responding to someone in mental health crisis to accurately gauging demand for behavioral health services. But communities often struggle as they try to develop and implement strategies for sharing this information among their law enforcement and behavioral health system partners. Understandably, many jurisdictions have concerns about federal and state privacy laws, but misconceptions of these mandates often limit what information officers collect and access on the scene. Other communities falter in trying to establish connections between their various data systems, making it difficult to identify shared clients and facilitate effective partnerships among agencies in the PMHC.

Fortunately, a number of communities across the country have started to develop a range of practical strategies that demonstrate it is possible to legally share information to support PMHCs in improving police responses to people who have behavioral health needs and strengthening people’s connections to treatment. This webpage is intended as a living resource and includes examples of some of these jurisdiction-specific strategies. While these strategies were developed with each community’s unique needs and language in mind, the resources within are provided with permission and can be used as templates for jurisdictions seeking to create their own strategies for sharing behavioral health information.